The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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MP opens jail doors to wives

Bhopal, Sept. 30: Prisoners in Madhya Pradesh will now be able to cohabit with their wives.

State jail minister Dhal Singh Bisen said that as an experiment, 25 couples in Hoshangabad, 60 km from Bhopal, will be allowed to live in special, single-room “family barracks” equipped with a kitchen and a toilet.

Initially, the offer will be open only to those who have completed a third of their sentence and have shown exemplary behaviour.

Bisen said that in 1972, a similar experiment was conducted at Mughawali in Guna district, where a large number of dacoits had surrendered with their wives. But it was a one-off offer ' an incentive for the dacoits to surrender.

“I am given to understand that similar offers are made in a few jails of Rajasthan and Maharashtra, too.”

The minister hopes the move will lure dacoits from Chambal and other criminals who are toying with the idea of surrendering. The offer, however, is open only to male prisoners and not female inmates.

Will the concession not lead to a rise in jail pregnancies' “I don’t think so,” an amused Bisen said. “In any case, we are talking about a small band.”

The minister outlined several other reform measures to improve the living conditions in jails.

“We plan to invite private entrepreneurs to train prisoners in weaving, stitching, carpentry, etc, so that when they leave jail they do not return ever again. They (the entrepreneurs) can market the products made by the inmates and the profits could be shared between the government and the prisoners,” he said.

Bisen has turned to Vaastu Shastra ' the ancient Indian study of architecture and buildings ' to restructure prisons. He believes that once the changes are made in keeping with Vaastu, the inmates will begin reforming.

“Sometimes just changing the position of the gates, doors and windows leads to positive energy inside the prison cells,” the minister claimed. “It will be a great benefit to society if these gestures lead to a fall in crime.”

Bisen has also announced that religious books like the Ramayana, the Bible and the Quran will be distributed free in jails across the state. The state’s jail manual will have to be amended, though, for it does not allow distribution of religious literature in prisons.

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